the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Man of Sorrows?

(I wrote much of this at home alone the other night this week when I really didn’t want Jeff to be gone for the night. I wanted distraction to fill my life and I the last thing I wanted to do was sit quietly and hear what was in my anxious heart. I am constantly prone to this. It is thorn in my side. So lest any of these writings make you think I rest in this place all the time, know the struggle to remain still constantly pursues me. Thanks be to God for constantly being will to struggle with me.)

Reading Scripture and books by Henri Nouwen do something to my soul. It is good and I feel so thirsty for it. I want more time to be quiet and to be with the Lord. It is like a carving is going on in my soul at these moments. Like I am living into what God wants for me. There is nothing like that experience, that fulfillment. Because of its power and yet opening of my soul, it’s a place I want to stay and leave all at the same time.

There is  a way in which the unchangeable reality of our loss has soothing effect on my soul when I sit quietly in it. There is something in Jonan’s loss that gives me a clarity of sight that I feel I can gain in no other way. Except through loss. When the pain arrives again (and it generally does) it reminds me that the constructs of the world are in vein. They are temporary, and some even false. This loss reminds me that I live by a truer Reality. That I am not, most certainly not, Home yet. I am not hopeless in the broken reality of the world; I have such hope in Christ who has suffered greatly (Isaiah 53)! God the Father worked in Him these sufferings so he, too, would learn obedience (Hebrews5:7-8). Christ had to learn through his sufferings! I find this amazing and strange. It was in that very place of suffering he opened up the door to eternal life for us. True Life.

I think of Christ as knowing it all, as “getting” his calling from the very beginning, but he had to grow as well. He grew physically, socially, spiritually, intellectually. He was sinless, yes, but still had to learn obedience along the way through suffering. He had to grow in clarity through his hardships along the way to the cross. He was called a Man of Sorrows. And I always thought this sounded so boring and lame. So boring, droning, churchy. Bleh.  Someone I would want to shy away from, to not be around. Yet in Scripture we find people flocking to him! Feeling loved by him and knowing grace as they have never experience. One thing I know is that no one wants to be around a boring, droning talking head who uses only religious-speak every day all day. So I highly doubt that was him, particularly since the religious people were not exactly fond of Him. So this Man of Sorrows gig must have meant something else. And in my own sorrow I feel I am on the edge of understanding a sliver of what that means. 

His sufferings gave him clarity of vision. They pushed Him toward deeper vision, toward seeing things (and people) for what they actually were and not what they appeared to be; they pushed Him toward the presence of His Father who would ultimately lead Him to the Cross. He learned through obedience. He was a Man of Sorrows.

I do not have a choice as to whether I would “go through” Jonan’s death or not. I had to go through it. But I can choose how I respond continually to it and to God. I can turn my heart toward God or back to my own control.  I can read the Scripture from Matthew 10:37 when Jesus says “whoever loves a son or a daughter more than me is not worthy of me” and feel angry and that He doesn’t “get it”. Or I can take this within the context of all of Scripture and know that His heart toward me is good. That his wrath toward sin is simultaneous with love for humanity. If He doesn’t hate sin, He cannot love me. Sin destroys me, and He knows this better than anyone. He felt the weight of every sin ever committed as He died on the Cross. He knows the cost of sin and does not want me to bear it. He tells me that I must make Him my center, and no one else. He knows the truest place of Life is within Him and no other. This calling cleanses me and frees me from loving another inordinately. We are called all throughout Scripture to love one another deeply and to care for the orphans, the widows, the lonely. Jesus loved children and rebuked others when they tried to keep children away from Him. He said “let the children come to me!”  He was not too busy or too important. So I know that when He tells me I am not to love another more than Him he is not “out of touch” or just “too spiritual”. He knows how easily it would be for me to get stuck in this place of grief endlessly and to miss Life along the way. Maybe to control other things in my life, or my future children, out of fear of loss. He would never call me to hate my son, or my future children, but He will always call me to love Him more. He knows how important this is, for he had to learn obedience, too. The hard way.

So I sit here and ask what then can my obedience learned through suffering amount to in the Kingdom of God? I don’t know this fully now. But I would miss out on the greatest fulfillment of my life if I did not surrender along this broken road. “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose” –Jim Elliott (martyred missionary to Ecuador). “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” –Jesus (brutally murdered at the hands of those He loved and came to save).

Why must it be along the road of suffering? I can only say that I am not certain except that Christ as gone ahead of me, followed by many others as they have followed Him. And to take off the burden of constantly trying to avoid all pain in my life and rush to the next “blessing” is such a relief.  For though blessings of finance, children, career, etc. etc. may or may not come in life…my greatest fulfillment is found in the presence of God, and I find him deeply in my pain.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it” -Jesus

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